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Tynedale at War 1939–1945 (Paperback)

Military P&S History > Social History WWII World History > UK & Ireland > Towns & Cities in World War Two

By Brian Tilley
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Series: Your Towns & Cities in World War Two
Pages: 199
Illustrations: 50
ISBN: 9781473863958
Published: 24th April 2017



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Barawling Australians, Polish pilots burning to avenge themselves on Germany for the invasion of their country, the German officer who drowned while trying to escape from a South Tyne PoW camp, and the pub landlady who watered down her gin in order, she claimed, to prevent naive Land Army girls getting drunk it was all part of life in Tynedale as the district went to war for the second time in twenty-five years.

Although well away from the battlegrounds of Europe, Tynedale did not escape the ravages of the Second World War. The rolling moorlands of the heart of Northumberland are still pitted with dozens of craters, where both Allied and Axis aircraft crashed in flames, and there were tragedies on the Home Front too.

At remote Coanwood, twenty-four men were left dead or seriously injured when a training exercise went badly wrong, and an exploding ammunition train at Hexham railway station left three men dead. Even before the conflict began, founder of the British Union of Fascists Sir Oswald Mosley and the hated Nazi propaganda broadcaster, William Joyce better known as Lord Haw Haw both came to the heart of Northumberland to preach the Fascist gospel in Hexham.

This book deals with the everyday impact of six years of war on the district, from the arrival of gravely wounded soldiers from Dunkirk at Hexham Emergency Hospital, through to dealing with thousands of often louse-ridden evacuees from industrial Tyneside, the heroics of local servicemen and the antics of the Home Guard.

This is an evocative book, giving us a good idea of the impact of the Second World War on even the most remote of rural communities.

Read the full review here

History of War

The area covers Hexham which was blessed with an excellent newspaper the Hexham Courant which has been used as a basis for recording the history of wartime Northumberland, civilian and military activities are covered, evacuees, Women's Land Army, ARP, air raids, crashes, ship wrecks, Home Guard, experiences of individuals, prisoners of war and there are portraits and biographies of some of the service casualties, lots of illustrations and a lucid and informative text. Watch out for the volume covering your area, you will not be disappointed.

Military Historical Society

As featured in

The Northumbrian

' [This book is] a heady mix of triumphs and tragedies, heroism and horror and the day to day efforts of the Tynedale populace to cope with the demands of the conflict.'

Hexham Courant

I have never been further north than Manchester, I'm sad to say, and now, at 71, probably never will. That doesn't mean that I don't find books like this fascinating - I do. There are so many tales crammed into this brilliant volume, about the citizens of Tynedale, that it's something of a roller coaster ride through Tynedale's second world war years. Hugely entertaining, authoritative and fascinating!

Books Monthy, June 2017 - reviewed by Paul Norman

About Brian Tilley

Brian Tilley is an award-winning journalist who has lived and worked in Tynedale for most of his working life. Three times North-East Weekly Journalist of the Year, and three times Columnist of the Year, he has worked on the Hexham Courant newspaper for over forty years, latterly as deputy editor. The newspaper's back files are a veritable treasure house of local history. Spanning over 150 years, and he is often to be found poring over them.

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